Our language, institutions, and current obsession with the royal baby notwithstanding, the United States has not been shaped solely by its British antecedents. Fernandez-Armesto, the William P. Reynolds Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, offers a Hispanic perspective on this country that starts with conquistadores, then moves through the colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest, missionary efforts in the Far West, and the vibrant Hispanic presence today.
The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America's Hispanic past. In an absorbing narrative, Felipe Fernndez-Armesto begins with the explorers and conquistadors who planted Spain's first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest in the sixteenth century. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain's expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. The nineteenth-century triumph of Anglo-America in the West is followed by the twentieth-century Hispanic resurgence, spreading from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities from Chicago to Miami and Boston. Fernndez-Armesto shows that today's plural America is the product of its past.